1. Saju, Ciji
  2. Stout, Donald E.
  3. Olson, DaiWai M.

Article Content

Most often, the term neuroscience nursing brings to mind images of nurses interacting directly with patients who have some neurological or neurosurgical concern. The term neuroscience nursing research naturally brings to mind images of nurses conducting research aimed to directly impact patients. On occasion, we read in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing a study in which nurses are the objects of study. Although there are entire journals dedicated to the science of management and nursing management, few research studies target scientific evaluations of best practice for charge nurses working in neuroscience. Granted, it's a niche, but it's a very important one.

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There are numerous different approaches to being a neuroscience charge nurse. Leadership styles include transformational, coaching, authoritarian, situational, transactional, autocratic, and laissez-faire, to name but a few. Although each style used in the appropriate setting may have specific advantages, there is not yet evidence that a single style is best practice (most appropriate) for every scenario. A particular leadership style may not always lend itself to an easy transition from one style to the next, potentially leaving holes in the charge nurse's style or abilities, and questions in the minds of those being led. An emerging style of leadership connects the gaps and allows the charge nurse to flex to the situation and provide for those being led just what they need for the desired results.


Servant leadership style may represent current best practice for charge nurses.1 To better understand servant leadership, let's divide the concept into premodern and modern. Premodern stems from biblical references that, to be great or to be a chief, one must also be a servant (Mark 10:43).2 The modern concept embraces a conscious decision to serve in a leadership position,3 thus implying that being a servant is inherent to the role. This reverses leadership from one in which someone in higher authority makes decisions and people below simply follow these decisions to one in which the principal job of the leader is to promote, nurture, and encourage. In servant leadership, staff voices are more likely to be heard and ideas are more likely to be communicated, distributed, and applied. Serving the staff, the patient, and the hospital, by providing the necessary resource in the appropriate place to achieve the needed outcome in whichever form of leadership, is required for that situation.


Inspiring neuroscience leaders will find the bright side of any issue, where the good leader appreciates team member contributions. One important characteristic of servant leaders is their proficiency to work closely with their employees to discover their best strengths and weaknesses. True leaders demonstrate enthusiasm and passion for employees and the organization.


A March 2019 search of PubMed using the terms "neuroscience," "charge nurse," and "nurse leader" resulted in only 13 articles published in the last 40 years. Moreover, none of these articles provides research-based evidence to compare various charge nurse models or leadership styles in neuroscience. It stands to reason that one style has distinct advantages over other styles. It also stands to reason that the charge nurse influences the staff nurse and staff nurses influence outcomes. This highlights a vital need for neuroscience nurses to study the role of the charge nurse in a more rigorous and scientific manner.


The Journal of Neuroscience Nursing eagerly awaits the first submission of retrospective or prospective data evaluating best practice for nurses who make the decision to become neuroscience charge nurses. Until then, best practice seems to embrace the servant leader model (class of evidence, level IIB; strength of recommendation, level C).


The Editors declare no conflicts of interest.




1. Savel RH, Munro CL. Servant leadership: the primacy of service. Am J Crit Care. 2017;26(2):97-99. [Context Link]


2. Gideons. The Holy Bible: New International Version. 2012. [Context Link]


3. Fahlberg B, Toomey R. Servant leadership: a model for emerging nurse leaders. Nursing. 2016;46(10):49-52. [Context Link]